E-mail is a valuable, flexible, and immediate way to promote your business-whether you have an online business or a traditional bricks and mortar shop. But you need to be smart in how you approach e-mail promotions so that they will be effective in supporting your sales or communications goals. E-mail is best used when you want to update customers on a new product, a special offer or sale, or to tell them about an event. It is also an easy and inexpensive way to stay connected and communicate with customers which helps promote word of mouth referrals and eventually drive additional sales.
Ten Tips for Launching Effective Email Campaigns
Here are ten tips and tricks for launching a smart, effective email campaign that will help you meet your goals:
- Create a database of email addresses. The first step to launching an e-mail campaign is to build a repository of customer e-mail addresses. To do that, if you have a bricks and mortar shop, you can post a sign-up sheet near your cash register where customers can request e-mail updates. If you have a Web presence, you can set up a Contact Me form on your site where people can register. Be sure your business e-mail address appears on every promotional piece, brochure, or web page that customers see. That way, people can contact you. Then, keep the e-mail addresses for anyone who does. Once you create your database, be vigilant about maintaining and updating your list.
- Use html to draft and design your e-mail. Using html for an e-mail enables you to use graphic elements so your e-mail will have more punch than a plain text email message. And most email systems easily accommodate html displays. If you do not know html, you can consult either a programmer or a graphic designer with Web experience to help you design a graphic template for your e-mails. Then you can simply edit the text each time you want to send out a new blast.
- Give customers a reason and a way to act. Your e-mails will not be effective if you do not prompt customers to act (“Call Now!”) as well as give them an incentive to act (“Click on this link for special savings!”) Without anywhere to go or anywhere to call, you will also have no way to track whether or not your e-mails are effective. If possible, consider creating a special Web page where these targeted customers can “land” and take action. If you build a page that is specific to the campaign, then you will know that the only people who visit the page are those who received the e-mail. Or, you can create a special phone number for them to call and take action; even a promotion code can be used for extra savings during the sale.
- Pay attention to what you say in the subject line. The Subject line is the first and most critical element to catch the recipient’s eye. When you write the teaser, be brief and clear, but be sure it addresses something the audience can relate to.
- Use the bcc field! When you send out a promotional e-mail, be sure that all of your customer e-mail addresses are placed into the bcc (blind copy) field, so they are hidden from view by others. This protects your customers’ privacy and is of paramount importance. Being careless with such data will reflect poorly on your business practices.
- Limit the number of recipients per e-mail, so you don’t get caught by spam controls. When you send out an e-mail blast, send it several times to small segments of your customer list. Sending in smaller chunks helps guard against your e-mail being kicked back or getting blocked at the receiving end.
- Don’t send attachments. Again, to avoid getting caught by spam blockers or an e-mail system’s security filters; do not attach any files to your e-mail. Place all necessary information in the body of the e-mail itself.
- Once you’ve sent your e-mail, actively monitor the replies. To fully gauge a campaign’s effectiveness you need to monitor e-mail or store traffic, replies or responses you receive, and your sales activities. Have you seen an increase or activity in any of these areas? Again, consider providing a link to materials or products you’re trying to promote; then, measure traffic to that page after your e-mail goes out. This is one of the easiest and cleanest ways to determine results. Having this level of insight will enable you to refine your campaign efforts over time.
- Take it slow. As with many marketing efforts, it is best to take baby steps when you first tackle an e-mail campaign. Don’t make the mistake of purchasing e-mail lists and blasting your campaign to the mass market. It is far more effective to send to a smaller, more targeted e-mail distribution list than to waste money appealing to people who are not viable customers for you. So, instead, start small and grow your efforts based on the responses you receive.
- Allow people to opt out of receiving future e-mails. Whether it’s a manual process or you have the capability to enable people to unsubscribe, don’t keep prospects on a list that they don’t want to be on. When a customer asks to be removed, be mindful of their request and act promptly. Doing anything less will anger them and damage your reputation.
Whether you have a Web-based business or local retail store, you can use these e-mail campaign tips to effectively boost sales, communicate with customers, and promote your business.